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Neurohacking - Tutorials
Written by NHA   
Friday, 20 July 2012 21:37
Article Index
Neurohacking Tutorial 9 - Emotional Stability & Unconscious Mind
Structure, Function and Behavior
From Automation to Autonomy
What Happens If Things Go Wrong?
The Unconscious Mind
NHA Guide To Methods and Technology
Getting Into The Garden
The Most Important Bits to Remember
Hacks and Exercices
Notes, References and Answers
All Pages


Getting Into the Garden

Methods of Consciously Accessing Unconscious Awareness


'Well, I'll eat it,' said Alice, 'and if it makes me grow larger, I can reach the key;

and if it makes me grow smaller, I can creep under the door;

so either way I'll get into the garden, and I don't care which happens!'

Lewis Carroll; "Alice in Wonderland"


Altered States

Get real about altered states, and don't associate the term with psychedelic acid parties. If you are depressed and you deliberately cheer yourself up, that's an altered state. If you have a headache and you take a pain killer, that's an altered state. If you're hungry and you eat a good meal, that's an altered state. Think like a neurohacker -pretty much everything alters our state, but we're in charge of what goes in there -so which way would we like to alter it right now?

At this stage in NH we should know what sort of things make us feel good, and be doing them regularly. Many of us want to 'alter our states' because of an underlying neurochemical deficiency, but most use 'recreational' intoxicants to allay anxiety symptoms.

If your interest in altered states is more esoteric, mystical or spiritual, or if you consider playing with your mind to be a spiritual experience, you may want to take a more multiple approach combining sound, light, odors, music, dance, artwork, an outdoor context, chemicals etc; in whatever combination works for you. Most people would be more likely, for example, to get an altered state 'experience' on LSD when walking through a beautiful forest than they would when reading a novel, but again we have to apply the rule here; 'everyone is different'.


Don't Take the Mind for a Ride if it Doesn't Want to Go

'Mystical' states can be achieved best with a selection of types of input control, including sensory deprivation (not recommended for beginners) , music, dance, chanting and rhythm, intoxicants, scents, light, texture, shape, color and sound, asthetics, meditation, exercise, nutrition, posture, facial expression, technology and chemicals.

There are many 'traditional' substances imbibed, drunk or snorted as part of ritual or recreational altered state experiences, and plenty of information on them on this site and all over the internet. We are not here to tell you what to choose to do or not do, but we can tell you that the starting state of mind as well as our experiential context determines a lot of our experience with psychedelics.

If you haven't done psychedelics before, its best to do it with a trusted friend, preferably one who's done it before. Nobody can tell you what to expect, because we're all different; you may experience feeling drunk, lusty, joyful, excited or profound. Lights or sounds may seem different, and synesthesia may occur (for example perceiving colors when hearing music).

Things that are normally straightforward, such as taking a bus journey, may seem extremely complicated. You may misinterpret shadows as solid objects, or experience some (or lots of) incidents or things as hysterically funny, or get the impression you can tell what others are thinking or feeling. You may feel like you did when you were seven years old, you may feel as though you are timeless, you might feel one with the universe.

Like most of us experience with alcohol, we have to get used to how things affect us individually, but being anxiety-free and emotionally balanced is the best foundation for mystical work.

There is no scientific proof that we are aware of that working with psychedelics is essential to NH or to brain development. If the mind doesn't want to go for a ride, don't make it.

There are many people who will claim, "this stuff gives you a fantastic time" about any number of substances. Usually they're trying to sell it. Remember that what one person experiences with one substance tells you nothing about what the exact same substance will do for another person. Anyone who says 'this stuff is good for everybody' is talking BS.

On the practical side, remember that many things sold on the street or on the internet are not what the seller claims they are (or even thinks they are), and some additives or substitutes have bad side effects. That's another good reason for testing something with very small amounts before making friends with it.

These are exactly the same rules that are taught in field agent survival classes with regard to wild foods: if you're not sure what something is, start with very small amounts.

It's hard not to start with a small amount of some substances because they come in very small amounts, but if you can cut it in half, or into quarters, why not do so?

Mind explorations work best if you have something fun to do during the experience. If you're creative that's easy, but doing something fun and simple with friends (such as a forest walk or going to a concert) often gives the best results.

As you might expect, the big enemy is anxiety. It doesn't mix well with spiritual exploration via chemistry. So if you want to play with psychedelics, arrange your circumstances so you are surrounded by beautiful scenes or close trusted friends. Do not drive, do not go shooting, do not operate heavy machinery, do not stop police officers on the sidewalk to tell them you are expanding the frontiers of your mind or how weird their hats look.



Most of us are familiar with the unconscious mind using the imagination to communicate with the conscious mind via intuition. For example new ideas, hunches, sudden solutions, insights and inventions all come from the unconscious to the conscious mind through the medium of the imagination.

These are everyday examples of what happens when unconscious intelligence and processes communicate through the imagination with the conscious mind.

Unfortunately, society has discouraged us from giving this information credibility. "It's just your imagination" is a commonly heard dismissal of information coming from the unconscious mind. This kind of conditioning has served to keep us disconnected from the deep richness of our vast unconscious resources. The funniest dismissive phrase about intuition is, "It's all in your mind." On consideration, most of us would agree that this is a pretty good thing. -Where else, one may ask, would any of us require our thoughts and perceptions to be coming from? This is like claiming, "Your brain is all in your head", which most of us would also tend to agree is a pretty good thing.

The unconscious part of our minds through history has been regarded as the domain of dreams, fancies, mental disorders and general woo-woo. Intuition has traditionally gotten a bad name for relying too much on emotion rather than reason, which is amusing because paradoxically the unconscious is perhaps the part of the mind that works most like a computer, in that it calculates without conscious knowledge of its own calculation. A major factor of intuition is that it intrudes into conscious experience; one that we are a lot more aware of than processes that remain unconscious only.

Intuition (intrinsic tuition, or 'tuition from within'), is a marvelous tool that can bring unconscious awareness into conscious awareness, but we can trust the accuracy of intuition only so far as association is congruous. If it isn't, 'hunches' will turn out to be unreliable (which is why so many people are skeptical from experience about the validity of intuition -theirs don't work out too well.)

A really good test for checking congruity of associations when you are making decisions is that a good decision will make sense logically and also ‘feel right’.

Having reliable intuition is an obvious advantage and is well-recognized and respected in some mainstream areas, for example detective, special forces and espionage work.

In law-enforcement subculture, the terms 'sixth sense', 'gut feeling' and 'hunch' are all used with universal understanding yet no clear definition -an experienced operative will tell you intuition is something one develops over time, and when you have it you know it. It can 'make the hair on your neck stand up' is one frequent comment, [96] and this is a common physical effect we also see in many other mammals automatically in response to alarm.

Intuitive behavior, what these people call a 'sixth sense' can be explained fairly easily when you know about the unconscious mind and how it's designed to communicate with our consciousness. In times of danger, the unconscious mind giving you that 'funny feeling' may be all it is currently able to accomplish, but with training intuition can be honed and sharpened like any other skill.

In trying to improve intuition you will get nowhere from the ontology (background beliefs about reality) that unconscious information is somehow supernatural or comes to you by magic or is a message from god or ESP. We need to cut through the woo-woo and grasp a firm understanding of exactly what is really going on and how this ability works in order to control and improve it.

Intuition is often described as a 'gut feeling' because coming from the unconscious down the 'short road', the 'feeling' often arrives before cognitive nets have had time to come to any conclusions themselves. The awareness arrives before the proof, the solution before the working, and that often creeps us out.

People who grow up in natural (enriched) surroundings learn about this automatic sort of function during their youth, courtesy of real life experience. Nothing makes you realize you're not in control like suddenly finding yourself up a tree with a snarling dog or annoyed bull at the bottom and having no idea how you got up there, or memory of having seen the animal until after you were up there.

This is not the same thing as an emergency response due to conscious input -we realize later that we didn't actually see or hear the dog or bull before we were up the tree, it's almost as if we got up the tree in some kind of trance, or 'in the zone'. When association is congruous we can see this intuition as a natural ability and we start to make friends with this mysterious warning system and trust it to help us out.

People who use their creative ability all the time, such as artists, scientists, engineers and mathematicians often get used to the idea that it's possible to understand something before they can explain it (and that that indeed is the basis for all creative innovation and scientific discovery).

If you find it hard to relate to these ideas, consider intuitive behavior (instinct), such as the way we know how to have sex without needing to be taught, that is the nature of unconscious knowledge. Conscious knowledge, experience and skills may make us better at sex, but nobody ever had to teach us where to put what; the knowledge just 'came into' conscious awareness in the same way we 'knew how to' breastfeed when we were born.

Being natural opportunists, most NH students when developing intuition also start thinking about what else we can be taught 'from within'. Intuitive behavior is applicable to any field, and it can be learned, examined, tested, studied and taught.


The Accuracy of Intuition Relies on Congruous Association

For as long as association remains congruous, intuition will serve us well; we will learn from experience how it interfaces with conscious awareness and be aware of it as unconscious information. If association isn't congruous, we might believe intuition is something like a magic power or a guardian angel, and it won't develop properly because instead of being out there in the real world praticing using it, we'll be isolated somewhere trying to develop ESP with playing cards or attempting to summon the guardian through prayer. Meanwhile, intuition atrophies.

Research shows that some amount of relevant unconscious association is always required for intuition to be accurate. For example, in one study participants were asked to predict the weather. While participants who trusted their 'feelings' were better able to intuitively predict the weather, they were only able to do so for the weather in their own local areas; not for the weather anywhere else. Researchers reasoned this is because "they don't possess a knowledge base that would help them to make those predictions." As another example, only participants who had some background knowledge about a particular game and current players benefited from trust in feelings in predicting winners. [97]

Likewise, growing up in natural surroundings gives us an unconscious knowledge base sufficient to make accurate decisions about reality. We know that dogs and bulls exist, we know it's possible to be harmed by them, and that's enough to give us reason to pick up unconscious subliminal signals that can detect their presence before there is conscious input.

Thus, this is another 'if=then' situation -IF we have a proper associative knowledge base, THEN we can trust intuition.

Intuition is also responsible for much creative inspiration. Research is showing that creativity is fostered by tasks that allow the body to relax and the mind to wander (which may be why Archimedes made his breakthrough discovery of displacement whilst relaxing in the bath) and is even encouraged by the contents of dream sleep.

It's long been known that that rapid-eye-movement sleep grants creative insight. The fact that allowing the mind to wander does the same, whilst known to creative people unconsciously from experience for hundreds if not thousands of years, has only recently (2012) been scientifically explained by conscious minds.

Research shows that mind-wandering (with or without mindfulness) is only helpful for creative issues that are already being concentrated on. Intuition is an ongoing association-dedicated service, rather than something that triggers a general increase in creative problem-solving ability. [98]

Daydreams appear to follow the same 90-120 minute cycle that characterize the fluctuation between REM and NREM periods, as well as fluctuations in mental capabilities associated with the right and left hemisphere. [99] That is, the cerebral hemisphere tend to oscillate in activity every 90-120 minutes -- a cycle which appears to correspond to the REM-NREM cycle and the appearance of day and night dreams.


Zoning Out

The creative state known as 'the zone' is related to these states but more complex, being used during creative interaction rather than during creative idea-generation. Research shows that allowing the brain to enter this state when it is performing complex tasks can have real benefits. Zoning out may have aided humans as an evolutionary strategy when survival depended on creative solutions.

Being in the Zone has been described as experiencing 'getting out of the way and allowing pure intelligence to be in the driving seat for a while', and Zoning is possibly as close as many people ever get to experiencing their potential power. Doing it increases production of alpha brainwaves and the internal release of acetylcholine, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins, which puts us in the perfect chemical state for pursuing our own creative goals, puzzle-solving, exploration and adventures in real life (if we have them) and (if we don't have them) explains much of the addiction to computer games seen in our times. [100]


Sleep and Dream Work

Note: It's not safe to do dream work whilst on any kind of sleep medication or whilst on long-term daily use of alcohol.

Many people have received workable new ideas and insights, accurate hunches, and unexpected intuitive understandings by considering their dreams in a waking state.

While sleeping and dreaming, internal sensory filtering is reduced (due to decreased 5HT) and motor functioning is inhibited -which prevents us (usually) from walking about and acting out our dreams.

Lucid dreaming, directed dreaming, hypnagogic states and self suggestion can also enhance access to unconscious awareness, as can ordinary dreaming by accident. These techniques (except the last one) can be difficult to master and are greatly assisted by knowing biofeedback basics and other kinds of feedback-assisted self control.

Those students wishing to pursue these kinds of activities should begin with dream-tracking; keeping a record of everything you remember from dreams as soon as you awake, regardless of what time it is.

Once you start dream tracking, the first thing you'll notice is memory improvement. This can take days or weeks to kick in and it's a sign that your unconscious is aware of what you're doing and is beginning to help you. It has noticed that for some reason these days dream content must be important to remember (because you are regularly writing it down), it has noticed the new habit and will now helpfully make an effort to remember more for your notes. The more you persist, the more it will remember.

Beware of devices or applications that help you wake up every time you go into or come out of REM sleep. Whilst these do indeed increase clarity of dream recall, they interrupt natural sleep patterns, which always slows down the performance of overall intelligence.


Weird Things that Happen in Dream Work

Imagination trying to play

At some point along the way dream recall may get so detailed and/or complex and 'storylike' that you may wonder whether your unconscious is starting to make stuff up and convince you that's what you really dreamed about.

If this happens, don't panic. Suspected confabulation is a sign of a developing imagination that needs to practice and play with its new skills. Slow up on the dream work and increase input of creative projects you are interested in pursuing in real life, you will give it direction and focus.


Hypnagogic images

These are usually experienced just as going to sleep, or when relaxing somewhere alone and quiet. They can also come as a side effect with some kinds of drugs. Suddenly there are vivid inner visions of N3's grid, lines, angles and shapes associated with it, or more abstract geometric figures. If anyone remembers the arcade game 'galaxians', that's the usual color scheme; fluorescent green wireframe lines on a black background , although there are many variations. Some hypnagogic imagery is very reminiscent of 'The Matrix' and many other portrayals of computer-generated imagery and it often also 'scrolls'. For reasons of such associations it really frightens some people (especially with strong N3s who watch a lot of sci fi) when they don't know what it is.

Images tend to be moving and some have called hypnagogic imagery "the Tetris effect".

If this happens, don't panic. Hypnagogic imagery is well-known and a lot of people can induce it in themselves on purpose and do so for fun and learning.

There is also an audio component and hypnagogic sounds vary as much as the visuals, including snatches of speech, sudden noises or musical tones. And even the tactile senses can get involved, giving the impression of floating or flying or the impressions of textures.

Hypnagogic imagery correlates with increased activity between N3 and N4 during sleep and also during alpha wave production; hence its occurence in meditation. [101] Electrophysiologically the right hemisphere becomes highly active during REM, whereas, conversely, the left hemisphere becomes more active during N-REM. [102] Measurements of cerebral blood flow have shown an increase in the right temporal regions during REM sleep and in subjects who upon wakening report visual, hypnagogic, hallucinatory and auditory dreaming. [103]

(Interestingly, deliberate induced or enhanced activity in the right temporal and temporal-occipital area acts to increase dreaming and REM sleep for an atypically long time period). [104]

It is likely that hypnagogic phenomena indicate access to unconscious awareness during the time that defragging is going on (hence it can also happen in blank staring or meditation). It is a trance state (not fully conscious, not fully unconscious) where the conscious mind 'goes to meet the unconscious halfway'.

During dreaming we are often semi-aware of the content of the files being replayed and defragged (for example if we have been on the sea that day, dreams often include the tactile impression of floating in waves, or if we are a rat learning a maze, the maze will occupy much of defragging time and we will 'dream the maze' as the information is transferred to long term memory.)

But hypnagogics take us beyond the content of the mind to its processes; what we are watching is data being 'ported' from one format/representational code to another. The quickly-changing imagery may be a direct feed from whatever is on N3's 'screen', in dreams this is usually memory replay mixed with images from N3 looking through the database to find matching concept patterns for re-coding recent experience, but in hypnagogic states it is more like the inner representation of the actual process of turning abstract ideas into concrete imagery and vice versa. Its technical name is "autosymbolism". [105]


Programming in Key Ideas for Dream or Trance Work

Staring at patterns and colors and designs like mandalas when inducing trance is one way of directing this type of imagery, which will of course include recent patterns viewed and their associations; and that's why shamans and spiritual seekers do this. If we need to access unconscious awareness to solve a problem, we can direct the area of search. A shaman sitting on a mat staring at a pattern is programming in "search tags" or "key concepts" so that the information processed will be in the area of the problem considered; exactly as we may 'mull over' the facts of a problem or difficult decision in words in our heads before 'sleeping on it' and allowing the unconscious to do all the work of association that points to an answer.

Perhaps the best-known example of the usefulness of this phenomenon is the chemist Kekule's realization that the structure of benzene was a closed ring while half-asleep in front of a fire and 'seeing' molecules forming into snakes, one of which grabbed its tail in its mouth. [106]

This was intelligence breaking through even though Kekule wasn't trying to do it on purpose. When we do it on purpose, a lot more intelligence can 'break through'. This is one way the conscious mind and unconscious mind are (or should be) able to work together -the conscious mind uses the unconscious exactly like a computer; it deliberately puts all the facts and data in at one end, asks a question, and allows the machine to solve the problem 'while you sleep'.

A 2001 study found that, while problems can also be solved in full-blown dreams from later stages of sleep, hypnagogia was especially likely to solve problems which benefit from hallucinatory images being critically examined while still before the eyes. [107]

There are hacks for inducing hypnagogic experiences in the hacks section of this tutorial.

Hypnagogia can be influenced by self-suggestion, hypnosis, or "passive concentration". [108] This is exactly what the shaman is doing when staring at images. Our modern equivalent is the dude who sets out all his equations or a mind map of a subject on a big board or a spreadsheet, associates it with a clear question, and stares at it blankly long enough for the unconscious to make it a priority for defragging (you make it the main thing in that day's input). Intense emotion (for example the desire to know the answer or the excitement of the chase) serves to enhance the function, and so of course do chemicals, by giving 'extra weighting' to the issues under consideration.

This does not mean 'worrying about things'. Mulling over difficulties instead of inputting data is about as much use to the unconscious as it is to the progress of a computer waiting for a critical mass of input to calculate the solution to a problem. The enabling state of mind is one of playfulness and curiosity, as any anxiety about the issues under consideration will prevent access to unconscious awareness.

Play on the surface, and all the work goes on underneath.

Often, you don't have to bother sleeping to solve problems in this way. Taking a break doing something totally different that requires little thought allows the unconscious to work on the problem while you amuse yourself. A software engineer colleague "goes away and watches star trek" whenever she gets stuck, personally I mess about in the garden when it's not too cold and fall back on sci fi or natural history when it is. Relaxing in the bath is a favorite 'time out' pastime for getting inspired too. Ask Archimedes.

Allowing the mind to 'wander', initializing the relaxation response, blank staring, meditation, dream sleep, hypnosis, mindfulness, music, dancing and some recreational drugs enable easier access to unconscious awareness. It seems we access unconscious awareness most easily when we are relaxed, receptive and playful. Play as always is the catalyst for intelligence growth.


Practical Assignment 1 - Emotional Stability

Identify and note examples of the 12 healthy emotions, portrayed in visual media you already have access to (for example movies, TV series, pictures). It's very easy to identify levity and grief. Can you find examples of all 12?

Make notes of the media that contain examples of other people (real or fictional) experiencing Comfort, Desire, Amity, Levity, Certainty, and Joy. Use these references for your own modeling practice.

Recall examples of yourself experiencing healthy emotions in the past, and use them to help evoke a pleasant emotion in the here and now.

Imagine things that you would feel amused about or excited by, and use these images to evoke similar feelings now.

Using a mirror and the reference pictures of facial expressions in this tutorial, see how well you can mimic each of the faces expressing Comfort, Desire, Amity, Levity, Certainty, and Joy. Which do you find hardest to mimic? Is there a correlation between the ones you find easy/hard and your strongest/weakest networks?


Practical Assignment 2 - Congruous Association

Which expressions are associated with which emotions and which possible behaviors?



Self Assessment

Snapback warning! Do not do this assessment if any anxiety is present. If anxiety arises during the assessment, stop. Come back to it when you feel relaxed and receptive.

Make a copy of the 'green zone' table showing emotions and sentiments from this tutorial, so that you can look at it while reading this text.

Remember a situation that you have been in the recent past, or an experience that you have had, where things did not turn out well. (Take it easy on yourself and do not start with major traumas!)

Regardless of whatever you were feeling at the time of the experience, look down the green zone column and decide which emotion would have been most appropriate in that situation (it may be the one you were feeling at the time, it may not.)

Look to the left and right of the emotion you chose as 'most appropriate'. If one of these sentiments is what you actually were feeling, you now know what healthy emotion was being replaced.

This may seem like no big deal; recognizing that we were feeling x when we should have been feeling y. But the next time we feel 'y', our unconscious will remember that it should be 'x' and start adjusting accordingly.

Work through situations that have failed to be as successful as you would like in the recent past and do this with each one. Don't do it with long-past issues at this stage.

By doing this you will be able to assess which particular areas our emotional spectrum has problems with.

For example, one NH student who's a graphic artist found that in every recent situation when logically he should have been feeling justified certainty (confidence), he was getting anxious and ending up with shyness and stage-fright and feelings of guilt that his work or ability wasn't good enough. Just noticing this enabled him to stop and think -"This is good work and I should feel rightly proud of it. If someone else doesn't like it, I'll listen to why, and if complaints are justified I will end up even better at what I do. Either way, there's nothing here to be afraid of."



Last Updated on Thursday, 30 September 2021 17:58